Perry likely endorsing Gingrich for president: sources

AUSTIN, Texas Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:33am EST

Republican presidential candidates Texas Governor Rick Perry (L) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speak to the moderators during a break in the Republican presidential candidates debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, January 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Republican presidential candidates Texas Governor Rick Perry (L) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speak to the moderators during a break in the Republican presidential candidates debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, January 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry is dropping out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and is likely to endorse Newt Gingrich, two Perry campaign sources said on Thursday.

Perry has scheduled a news conference in North Charleston, S.C., for 11 a.m. EST.

Perry led polls of the Republican candidates after he jumped into the race in August, but committed a series of gaffes on the campaign trail and in debates. He faded to the back of the pack of contenders to face President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in November's election.

Perry finished in fifth place in the Iowa caucuses on January 3, and in sixth place in the New Hampshire primary on January 10.

Polls of voters in South Carolina, which holds its primary contest on Saturday, showed that Perry had about 5 percent of the vote.

With former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Gingrich rising in recent polls of likely Republican voters, a Perry endorsement could help him gain on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who won the New Hampshire primary, came a close second in Iowa and leads in South Carolina, according to polls.

(Writing by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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